Landing in Walvis Bay was like landing in a completely different world. We landed solidly and quite hard surrounded by sand. The girls compared it to a scene from Star Wars or what it looks like on Mars - both pretty apt descriptions. We walked across the tarmac unaccompanied by any airport official and waited in the immigration line for over an hour! We were definitely in Africa now and it was great!
We headed to the nearby mall to get a SIM card as we were off on a road trip and wanted some security while on the road. Security guards were guarding the parking lot and each store. While we had seen this before on our travels, somehow again I was taken aback. Does one ever get used to seeing this I wondered?
We drove to a lovely hotel on the coast. This area was slightly removed from the main city and was a hustle of new apartments/resorts being built. Right next to the ocean, it was a great place for water sports, although we didn’t have time to participate.
Truth be told, I’m not sure how Walvis Bay became the size of city it is today. Yes, there is an active harbour but beyond that, truly there isn’t anything around it except for sand dunes. It is an interesting place none the less and certainly made us excited for the dunes we were about to explore the next few days.
The next morning we began our “Namibian Road Trip”. We had heard about the roads in Namibia. They are labelled ‘A’ through ‘F’ with ‘A’ being a single lane highway in both directions, ‘B’ being a compacted dirt road and well, it just goes from there. Our journey led us primarily on ‘A, B and C’ roads and after great research we decided to rent a little economy car. Had we landed in Namibia straight from Calgary, I think we would have been quite shocked, but after 5 months of travelling and most of it in the developing world, we’ve come a long way since Costa Rica and are quite used to these types of roads. We actually laughed at how normal the bumps felt and were surprised when the road was smooth! We made it, without incident, the whole way through Namibia.
The views were spectacular and varied. We began surrounded by orange sand and straight dirt roads for as far as the eye could see. We were on our own along the roads except for the odd truck and a few other tourists doing what we were doing. We moved through gorges with scrub and saw quite a few antelope along the way which whetted our whistle for the safari we would do by the week’s end. In our part of the world there is a fair amount of talk about ‘big sky country’ and how flat Saskatchewan is. Namibia wins - we’re pretty sure we saw the curvature of the earth from a whopping 42m elevation. Simply amazing.
As we travelled, we stopped along the way at a bird sanctuary to see a flamboyance of flamingos (aptly named with their almost ballet like movements), at the Tropic of Capricorn and in a small town called Solitaire. Picture a western movie town only in an African setting. Though small, it had everything any tourist would need: a gas station, car mechanic, hotel, small store, washrooms and THE best apple pie in an incredible bakery. A really eclectic spot with the rusted out cars greeting you as you near National Park.
We were up and at ‘em the next day ready to explore the incredible sand dunes of Soussevlei National Park. You might know this area as the stunning orange sand dunes on your computer’s screen saver ( a staple for both Internet Explorer and Apple). Our goal for the day was to climb the largest orange sand dune in the world - aptly named ‘Big Daddy’. We were all very excited, especially the girls! As we had only rented a little economy car, we were unable to drive all the way into the park as the last 5km of road were sand. Our little car wouldn’t have made it so we caught the National Park’s shuttle. This became a surprising highlight as we bumped along the roads to the drop off point in the open air Land Rover. We were trekking now!
It didn’t take us long to climb ‘Big Daddy’ despite sinking back slightly with every step we took. We all quickly figured out it was easier to walk in someone else’s footsteps as these created made walking easier. Despite a dozen cars in the car park, we saw very few people while out hiking which created a feeling of isolation. This magnified when we reached the top of the dune. As we looked out, we were literally on top of the world. Without a breath of wind, we discovered what silence truly sounds like.
We played at the top for a bit (dancing to ‘On Top of The World’ and reenacting scenes from The Lion King - HA!), before heading back down - a far faster and easier excursion than the way up. We literally ran down the sides of the dune and although it didn’t take us long at all, it sure was an interesting experience. With the sand flooding into our hiking boots and burning our heels, Avery likened the sensation to what it might feel like to walk on the moon. It was tonnes of fun, especially as we dumped the sand out of our boots at the bottom.
We walked back through Deadvelei, a pan (ancient lake that has long since dried up) with dead trees over 800 year old. Again, we were only the ones around. Being completely surrounded by sand dunes it was easy to see how people could become lost in a desert and why we had to sign ourselves into the park in the first place. Heading home we got to enjoy our surroundings changing with the setting sun. The interplay between light and shadow was extraordinary. The whole day was incredible! An immediate favourite on all of our lists!
To think we get to relive it every time we turn on the computer, too!
We're the Danchuks - follow our explorations and family adventures in a wide world (2018).